There’s no bond quite like a cowgirl, her horse, and her dog.
Lexi Coniglione says she's a multi-faceted cowgirl, spending her time day working, showing horses, and spending time with her best dog, Fez.
“He is a best friend more than he is a dog,” she said.
Fez is a Border Collie and Australian Shepherd mix – something that isn’t seen when it comes working cattle dogs. At a year and half years old, Fez is far beyond his years.
“He's really smart, especially for a young dog. He's never got himself in trouble. He's never got himself in what we would call a wreck.”
As smart as Fez is, the mixed breed she believes allows for the two to work together and not for himself. Fez is all business when the cows come home.
Within the past two years, Lexi’s life was turned upside down when three close family members and friends passed away, and to top it off, her then best dog was in a deadly accident.
“They say bad things come in three’s mine came in fours,” she added, “Kind of just one of those chapters in my life where it was. I wouldn't say I was at rock bottom by any means, but really struggling to kind of figure out how to get through that.”
As much as Fez and Lexi bond at work, his job is greater than what’s in the corral or field.
“This dog in particular just wouldn't leave me alone. But he didn't ever ask me to say anything. He didn't ever ask for a conversation. He just wanted to be right next to me. And so sometimes you find yourself driving around or doing your errands and you feel really lonely. But when you have a dog that is just leaning on your shoulder, puts his head on your shoulder and just lets you know that you're not by yourself.”
Despite all the hardships the two have faced, they are moving forward.
Lexi entered Fez into a national competition for Farm Dog of the Year through the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Fez was named a runner-up in the National Competition but took home gold in the Northwest Division.
“I think it's so much fun to talk about my dog. I mean, he's like my pride and joy, for sure.”
The two won some jewelry and some food and treats from Purina but this competition has opened more doors for the two to eliminate the stigma of working farm dogs.
“I know there's a little bit of stigma in certain areas about farm dogs or ranch dogs just being a tool, and they're not. I mean, they wouldn't work for you if they didn't just absolutely think you were over the moon.”
The two aren’t riding off into the sunset just yet, it’s back to work continuing to build their legacy.
“…it's really nice to hear other people are just as proud of something that you're building as you were.”
Man’s best friend is now cowgirl’s best friend.